Starting in Photography - my experiences. (56k warning)

RimBlock

Active Member
As some people expressed an interest I am going to put some of my experiences here for anyone who wants to read and maybe avoid some of my mistakes.

i am going to do it in sections (i.e. Overview / Camera / PC / Studio) within this thread to get upto date and then just add to it as things change.

================================================================================

Ok after a bit of feedback it has been suggested that prople may like an index so they can jump to relevant points without having to trawl through the whole thread so here goes......

In the begining - here.
Computer specs - here.
Lenses - here.
Other equipment - here.
Home studio - here.
Clarification on aperture - here.
Studio lighting - here.
Models - here.
First pictures / workflow - here.
Second shoot / lessons learnt - here.
Changes & things to come - here.
Singapore shots - here.
Bangkok shots - here.
Chiang Mai shots - here.
Koh Samui shots - here.
Colour calibration - here.
Lessons learnt fron Asia shots - here.
Colour profiles explained (Kenlynch) - here.
Photoshoot 1 writeup - here.
Free Microsoft RAW plugin - here.
New camera / new shots / things to do - here.
Expensive body, expensive accessories - here.
Impressions of Canon 5D - here.
Where to find models / More shots - here.
More shots (body and Nana) - here.
Other RAW processing tools (Pukkita) - here.
Model shots (Kae) - here.
Model shots (Jira) - here.
Model shots (Xiang) - here.
Model shots (June) - here.
Model shots (ShuFen) - here.
Processed model shots (Kae) - here.
Processed model shot (June) - here.
It's all in the details - here.
Test Canon 24-105mm f4 IS L - here.
Test Canon 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS - here.
Model shots (Davina) - here.
Model shots (Ting Ting) - here.
Where to go from here - here.
Post processed (Ting Ting), Model shoot (Avani) & (Ru) - here.
Battery grip impressions - here.
Dpi/ppi and much discussion - here.
Epping forest, company for the day and me - here.
More archived shots (Ixus 430) - here.
High ISO, she just makes me smile - here.
Website thoughts turn to action - here.
More island archived shots - here.
Pre/post edit island archved shot - here.
Hows this thread going vote - here.
Candid shot (Radiohead) - here.
Image protection and copyright - here.
 

Mr THX

Active Member
Will be interested to read that Rimblock, I've just dipped my toe into the DSLR waters and I'm very interested to learn more........

Look forward to it..... :smashin:
 

RimBlock

Active Member
My interest is more in portraits and candid photography. I enjoy landscape shots but feel I am better with the other two areas. It is also worth noting that this is just a hobby for me and I have no aspirations to make it a profession.

Specifically my interest is more in photographing women from portrait, to glamour to art nude. A study of women and the female form and currently I am in a position to be able to do this. :clap:

I live alone but am lucky enough to have a GF who used to be a model in her native Taiwan and so is happy for me to persue this. :thumbsup: Oh I am also in my early 30's.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
The time was right what with me looking for a new hobby, going to Asia for 3 weeks and fantastic reviews of the Canon 350d.

Being a total impulse buyer it was into Jessops on the way home and walking out 30 mins later with a lovely silver 350D, USM kit lens and bag etc.

That was not he last I was to be seeing of Jessops.

Top Tip 1:
Jessops by Liverpool Street will reasonably price match a UK shop or website price with stock in. They need to check with head office before doing it though.

Top Mistake 1:
Didn't know about price matching. Paid full price for the pack. Should have done more research.

Top Tip 2:
Don't buy the memory cards from Jessops unless they price match them.

Top Mistake 2:
Approx £80 for a 1GB CF memory card. Should ahve done more research.

As far as the camera goes, I love it. My first SLR coming from an Ixus 430 and even with my long fingers I have no problems holding the camera. Must be all the practice with the PSP, now that is difficult to hold and use the thumb stick.

Top feature for me must be the ability to take rapid multiple shots. Pointing the camera at a female friend would cause a pout. Pushing and holding the shutter release create a flick book like account of the pout breaking out into a beaming smile. Fantastic.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Working in I.T. I have a reasonable spec'd machine. Not top of the range as I have grown out of the 'keeping up with the Jones'. There are much better things I can now spend the money on including holidays in Thailand. A new top of the line video card will cost as much as a 12 hour flight to Asia in non peak season.

Starting Spec;
A64 3500
1 GB ram
Ati 9800 pro video card
SCSI 15k boot drive
Various IDE storage drives
19" CRT monitor.

This runs Win XP and CS 2 fine. The only problem I have encountered is when opening multiple Tiff files and copying and pasting to stitch them together just fills up the ram and brings the machine to it's knees.

Top Tip 1:
Get as much ram as you can. Doesn't need to be the fastest but it is worth having the spare space so CS or any other programs have room to stretch their legs. Working on single files will usually not cause issues with 1 GB but it really is the more the better.

After playing with CS 2 for a while I decided that I needed to upgrade a few parts.

I now have changed;
1 GB ram -> 2 GB ram
19" CRT monitor -> 24" Dell widescreen monitor.

For me it makes a big difference. The Dell monitor was around £650 and is fantastic. PM me if you want to know where it was bought from. I will not advertise the site as their forums have a near fanatical desire to stop people even mentioning competitors. If the prices are fair and they are competitive then what is the problem ?. Oh well just my view.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Two comments already.

Thanks guys. Nope no website yet. Still trying to get the post processing of images to a point where I am happy to display. Bit too much of a perfectionist for my own good :-(.

Guess the website will be another section for the future.

Right lunch time and then I will do sections on other equipment / Studio / Studio lighting and models. That is if work does not get in the way :D
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Well the kit lens was fine until I started reading that is was 'just' fine and there are a lot of other lenses out there which will give much better results.

Well that along with going to Thailand again made up my mind that I wanted a lens with a longer 'reach' so I started looking around.

Two lenses popped up as possibles and they were;
28mm-105mm f4-5.6 USM
28mm-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM

Both were going for reasonable prices on ebay and I consider this a good place to buy as I have not had any issues buying or selling over the last 4 years not that I am a big buyer or seller there.

Ok so first a little bit about the specs on the lenses;

Both the lenses are zoom lenses having a range of focal lengths between the first 'mm' number and the second 'mm' number. If there is just one 'mm' number then the lens is a prime lens and cannot be used to zoom in or out of the subject. The advantage of this is that the quality for the same price is usually better as prime lenses are much easier to manufacture.

The second set of numbers are the maximum aperture settings at the top and bottom of the focal range. The lower the number the bigger the hole to let light into the lens. The bigger the hole, the faster the shutter allowing for less to no blur when capturing fast moving objects or the better the picture if taken at night. Basically the lower the number the better.

USM is for ultra sonic motor allowing fast and quiet auto focusing.

IS is for image stabiliser which hopes to eliminate the blur caused by small body movements when the shutter is open and the picture is being taken. These movements are emphasised more the greater the focal length of the lens.

The lenses will be marked with another number after these which is the filter diameter should you wish to attach any filters in the future.

I went for the 20mm-135mm lens as it had good reviews, was faster (had a larger aperture at the low end) and had IS. I bought from e-bay for £100 less than buying new with lens hood (used to help minimise the sun shining directly into the lens). The lens was exactly as advertised and I was a very happy bunny.

Since this point I have also purchased a 50mm f1.4 and a 85mm f1.8 prime lens specifically for portrait work. I am happy with all the lenses and a happy coincidence is that all but the 28mm-135mm take 58mm filters so are interchangeable.

The two primes were bought from Jessops (85mm f1.8) and York Cameras (50mm f1.4). Jessops didn't have the 50mm either in their shops or in their warehouse and neither did Jacobs Digital (New Oxford Street). The very helpful guy in Jacobs did point me to York Cameras which is just up a road opposite the British Museum entrance. It is a small 'enthusiasts' shop rather than a 'chain store' and as such the prices can be a little higher but they had one in stock and the price was reasonable.

I have heard talk of the 50mm f1.8 being phased out of production. When looking for the 50mm f1.4 I was told they were so hard to find because they were being phased out. I suspect this may be the case.

I would recommend York for hard to find equipment, Jacobs for good advice and a little chat (depending on who you get serving) and Jessops because......err...... its on my way home :smashin:
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Ok with studio work in mind and with a not too steady hand I knew I needed a tripod and a remote shutter release.

So I now have a manfotto 190 tripod and a 3 way head. I also picked up a wired remote shutter release which has two positions for both focus lock and shutter release just like the half push on the cameras shutter release.

Top Warning 1:
The Manfrotto website is seriously bad. I suspect someone is running it from their bedroom. Don't expect being able to download manuals etc from the site with any ease.

The tripod is lovely though. I can strongly recommend.

I also bought a zigview which clips onto the back of the viewfinder and displays an image on a small lcd screen. The quality is not great and trying to spot where the auto focus point was within the picture was sometimes a problem but, and here is the big plus, when taking portrait pictures I can speak to the model without being behind a camera. She can see my facial expressions and eyes which adds a more personal connection to the session.

I also find that the eye piece for the 350D means you need to push your face pretty snugly up to the back of the camera squashing your nose etc. The zigview means I no longer need to do that but I only use it indoors.

I have also purchased a graphics tablet for giving better control with picture editing. i have yet to sit down and really use it so cannot really comment yet although the installation went smoothly and I can now control Windows with a pen as well as with my normal mouse.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Ha-ha......

I am at work and do not have my pics here. I am also off out to the pub tonight so wont get a chance until tomorrow night to post some pictures.

There are two already in the forums, one portrait and one land (sea)scape.

I will try to get more up over the weekend. They will be linked to the experiences sections (i.e. Thailand, First model shoot) within this thread unless you want pics of the computer and of the camera equipment :)
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Ok, I don't have a garage and I can't be bothered hiring a studio every time I want to do a shoot but I do have a spare room. The room is a pretty good size and is empty but for wardrobes along one wall and the computer.

This is how I turned it into a studio....... drawing pins, fabric and studio lights (see next section).

Is really is as easy as that.

The fabric was purchased from Fabric Land . The people were able to arrange and next day Saturday delivery (impulse buyer remember :D )

Fabricland do black fabric used for costumes for £1 for a 1 mtr by 1.47mtr wide length. I bought lengths to cover the wardrobes and one wall along with the floor making the interior of a black three sided cube. The other thing about this fabric is that it has some lycra in it so it can be pulled taught. It is also easy to Photoshop any seams out. I got an old dining chair from my loft and covered it with a small throw for the model to sit on. I also have an exercise floor mat which I can put down and cover with a throw if the model is laying on the floor to make it more comfortable for her.

I also bought some black velvet and some cream printed cloth.

That's it really. Three sides of a room, some black cloth and space for lights and the camera / tripod. Having the PC in the same room means I can proof the pics when the model is changing into another outfit.

Top Tip 1:
Using drawing pins to secure to the wall can give you a numb thumb tip depending on the hardness of your walls or lots of bent pins. I got through 50% of my pins as they bent.

Using this method I can unpin the all but the top pins and roll the backcloth up and store on top of the wardrobe. It takes me around 10 to 15 mist to get it pinned out again and the cloth attached to the wall I do not touch save for rolling the floor covering up to the wall as it was a git to get the pins in the wall in the first place.
 

kenlynch

Standard Member
The second set of numbers are the maximum aperture settings at the top and bottom of the focal range. The lower the number the bigger the hole to let light into the lens. The bigger the hole, the faster the shutter allowing for less to no blur when capturing fast moving objects or the better the picture if taken at night. Basically the lower the number the better.
Just a quick correction/addition. Lower is not better. A larger aperture will give less depth of field for the same focal length, this may not be what you want. All lenses are at their softest wide open, so stopping down the aperture is often a good idea to get the best performance from a lens.

In photography you have a range of shutter speeds and apertures that give the same exposure, so you should select the shutter speed and aperture according to the exposure and the creative effect you want from the shot - if you want to blur action to create a sense of movement or get lots in focus front to back, then use a slower shutter speed and a smaller aperture - if you want to freeze the action or use selective focus to pick out a point of interest whilst bluring the rest, use a wider aperture with a higher shutter speed.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Sorry, I did not make myself as clear as maybe I should.

Specific applications in photography do not require a larger aperture and therefore will not benefit from having a faster lens. Getting a faster lens widens what you can do with the lens and get good results (dependant on the lenses quality of course). A wider minimum aperture gives you more options on what you can shoot with the lens and come out with good quality.

I was using better generally. Someone with specific uses in mind like shooting long landscapes in bright sunshine would not benefit from larger apertures if this is all they were going to be doing.

I was also trying to save getting into the whole relationship between aperture, iso, blur, shutterspeed for another section rather than get bogged down in that one. It is hard enough to keep them this short :D .

Cheers
RB
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Well now I have the basic studio setup I need to be able to light it.

I am under no illusion that this will be a professional studio with ceiling rails and thousands of pounds worth of equipment but then I want it to at least be semipro rather than just having spot lights.

The two main options available were tungsten lighting which work like always on spotlights and proper studio flash that only fire when triggered.

The problem with the tungsten lights is generally heat build-up. They tend to be quite high wattage and as they are always on you are going to get the model pretty hot (in a bad way :devil: ). They are cheaper but not ideal.

The studio flash lights generally only fire when triggered but usually have a modelling light which can be turned on to help arrange the lighting for the desired effect. These modelling lights are usually fairly low in power and don't generate much heat and so don't give the model a tan while she is posing.

Now most of the books I have read give a basic setup fro portrait lighting as requiring;

Key light - Main light to highlight the face.
Fill light - To fill in shadows created by the key light.
back light - To light the background.
Hair light - to light the hair :D .

Some of these lights can be replaced or enhanced by using reflectors.

So what to go for. Well the cheapest as mentioned was the tungsten system but for me this was just not what I wanted. The next cheapest was a flash system provided by good old Jessops. They put together a range of starter studio kits. The kits are called portaflash kits and usually come with all you need to get going. Two of the kits looked good to me, the cheaper 2 and the more expensive 3. The 2 had a master and slave flash where the 3 has two master and two slave flashes.

The master flashes have modelling lights where as the slaves are just flash bulbs. Well the books say that I need 4 lights so I went for the kit 3. Nope not from Jessops as £529 was a bit more than I could justify what with buying the camera and lenses etc as well. Along to EBay and I managed to pick up the kit plus a few extras for around £380.

So what did I get.
Two master flash heads. Power can be stepped up/down in 1/4 increments (i.e. 1/4 power, 1/2 power). Modelling light switch, sync cord socket.
Two slave flash heads (corded on/off switch)
Two umbrellas (for bouncing and spreading the light).
A softbox (for defusing the light).
4 colour filters for the slave flash heads
2 diffuser filters for the slave flash heads
3 stands
A snoot - funnel like device for channelling the light into a small area.
A honeycomb - like the snoot but for stronger channelling.
Various brackets.

There are two main ways of getting the studio flashes to fire. Using a PC sync cord (nope not PC as in personal computer). This is a cable that will run from the camera to the master flash unit allowing the camera to stell the master to fire. The other flashes will detect this firing and fire themselves. The second is via an infrared trigger unit. This type of unit will fire an infrared flash pulse that is invisible to the camera but will trigger the flash heads.

I chose the PC connection route as the hotshoe adapter (the 350D doesn't come with a PC sync socket). The adaptor was a few pounds at Jessops. Yes it adds another cable (along with the flash power cables) but I have also heard of misfires from studio flash due to a camera's preflash used for focusing in difficult conditions. A few pounds for the adaptor against £150 or so for a wireless flash trigger and there really was no competition.

I am pretty pleased with the whole setup but there are a few issues which I will cover in another section. These issues are more to do with lack of space more than anything else.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Ok so now I have a mini studio, lights and a camera. It all looks semi-pro and I am happy but still I have nothing to photograph.

I could photograph flower pots, pets, family members or I could hire a model and photograph her :thumbsup:

Ok so family members are cheaper, a smile and a cuppa usually is all that is required but hell, I know my family members, luckily.......

So first I need to decide the requirements I am looking for. Personally I find nothing much more beautiful than a lady laughing with obvious pleasure. I also find the female form to be usually quite beautiful and never one to be held back by normal convention I decided to find models who were happy to do portrait and glamour work and to a lesser extent nude work.

Next is working out what sort of model I want. Do I want a new model who is trying to break into the business or an established mode. There are swings and roundabouts to both. New models can be quite unreliable as they may be tempted to try but not really that serious if there is any effort involved. Established models on the other had may blow you off (as in cancel :eek: ) because a better paid job comes up or because they want rest from their main modelling and don't need the money.

Now what can I do to make the idea of working for me more appealing. After all in essence I am a stranger who they have never seen or met asking them to come to my home and undress whilst I take photos :devil: . Sounds a little suspect now doesn't it.

Well first I usually enter into an e-mail dialogue with the model who is interested. Whilst talking about dates for the shoot, makeup, hair and clothing it gives both of us a basic feel for each other. Also talking about the subject matter helps lay the groundwork for the shoot. The more you can get resolved over e-mail the less talking you have to do to get started when you are shooting and so the better spent your money will be. Sending samples of your work or a link to your website also helps establish this as a legitimate exercise.

A couple of models have asked about bringing chaperones. Ok this is a lady going to a strange mans home. If it was my girlfriend then I would probably feel the same. My stance has been strongly against. I don't want a boyfriend standing in the doorway while I am taking pics of his love nude. Even if he has been told to keep quiet you can be sure the dirty looks will be flying. The only compromise I have gone for was for a particular part of one shoot where it was totally reasonable for the lady to ask. I agreed but only if it would be a female. Just my preference.

Now to also help stop any fears the model may have I generally go and collect them from the local station so we meet in public and have a short work. She can see I am not wearing a raincoat, I am not in a midlife crisis and as much as can be deduced in a short time that I am not any risk to her. I also make it very clear that reasonable checkin calls with someone are fine and she gets my name address and telephone numbers before she comes.

The model I am shooting this weekend I will be meeting up for lunch with first. Partly as it is a 4 hour shoot after lunch and I am not busy and partly so we can spend some time getting comfortable. Of note is the fact that I am not paying to the time spent although I will probably end up paying for the lunch which is fine by me.

So how do I go about finding models.

Well I could advertise in a local paper, trade paper, internet site or catch people on the street.

Depending on where you live the local paper in likely to net you completely inexperienced models. This may also lead to very unprofessional models more interested in fun than working to produce the effects you are paying to try and get.

Trade paper may get you better results but most mainstream models will not be interested in private work and the higher class models will not be in most peoples realm of acceptable cost.

People on the street...... How many times have we heard from female friends that she met a guy in the street / pub who is a photographer and wants to make her famous. I am just not one of those guys. The sets I do will not make anyone famous. I will not mislead anyone into believing otherwise.

So that leaves the internet......

I will cover this a bit later as I have the details at home and not here at work.

Things to know.........

Age: AFAIK any nude and I suspect glamour shooting needs to be done with models over 18 whether it is for publication or not. All the models I use are over 25. I would suggest never entertaining the idea of shooting anyone at home younger than 21 without another person present at all times.

Release: A release is a signed document by the model giving you specified rights to the photographs and their use. This may be full rights to do whatever you wish or partial rights for printing in one book only. A release will usually cost the models single or double hourly rate. I do not use a release as the only use I have for the pictures is practice and portfolio. If you want to be doubly sure then always use one but as I am not making money off of the photos I do not.

Rates: Depends on the model but £40-£50 for portrait, £60 for glamour and £70 / hour for nude / adult are the usual rate I have quoted. Many inexperienced models will not have rates so this is a good indication of the models level.

TFCD / TFP: Time For CD or Time For Pictures is a partial or full barter with the model whereby they will model and you give copies of the pictures or a CD of the shots. You get to keep the pics and she gets some more shots for her portfolio. You will need to convince her that the shots you produce are worth having though and many ladies will not do this as they have enough pictures.

Model: These ladies are there to model. They are not there to be pawed, stared at or provide any other kind of 'services'. They are not cheap escorts and most I have met are lovely ladies in committed relationships with partners. Treat them with respect and the shoot will go well. If they feel comfortable then it will come over in the shoot.

Now I am no master with this and do not pretend to be. I am also a little unconventional with the way I deal with models but I have no deadlines or pressure for results and I get very positive results both in the pictures and from the models.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Ok,

So you wanted some sample pictures.

Here are some. They are just to show the differences in the lenses. Most have been corrected slightly for exposure and all have been sharpened bust most have been sharpened the same degree. None of the pictures have been retouched in anyway and they are just to show the results from the lens and not for comment on the model or the fact they have not been retouched. They are not the finished article.

Workflow;
Rawshooter;
Exposure compensation
Save as TIFF
Photoshop CS2
Sharpen (100, 1, 2)
Resize 800xXXX
16 bit -> 8bit
Save (Jpeg level 10)

Hosted on photo bucket.

First the 50mm Prime f1.4


50mm Prime, f8, 125/s, iso200 (before I realised it was set to iso200).


50mm Prime, f9, 160/s, iso100

Second the 85mm Prime f1.8


85mm Prime, f11, 160/s, iso200


85mm Prime, f6.3, 160/s, iso100

Third 135mm of the 28mm-135mm f4-5.6 IS


135mm, f7.1, 160/s, iso100


135mm, f7.1, 160/s, iso100

Last 37mm of either the stock lens or the 28mm-135mm IS (sorry not sure which one).


37mm, f9, 160/s, iso100
 

Iain Shields

Active Member
Great thread so far RimBlock :smashin:

A question if I may... In regards to the shots you posted, you can clearly make out the detail in the black cloth background, as my personal preferance is to see shots like this with a blurred background I'm wondering what would be the best way of going about getting this effect? Would it be simply moving the model a bit further away from the background, or would this need to be combined with reducing the depth of field by going to f/5.6 or f/4?

I'm guessing the answer would depend on your available space, could you talk a bit about that in regards to what available space you have and give dimensions of your spare room?

Oh, and I noticed one of these on ebay, dosn't seem too expensive, look any good?:- http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Radio-Wireless-Trigger-for-Portaflash-Series-3_W0QQitemZ7558671200QQcategoryZ3860QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Regards,
Iain.
 

milkmanchris

Active Member
Ah the memories this thread brought back.

I went through these stages at 15 years old, and went on to University to study photography and later journalism school.

I got disallusioned with the whole thing about 15 years ago, then BANG along came digital, got back into 'the game' and loving it more than ever, and back earning a full time living from football.

The tips here are pretty good, the main thing i will say to anyone is just get in the studio or out in the open and shoot and shoot some more, hell once you have the gear the only cost is your time, and more and more and more gear :)

Studio work has never been my thing but the shots here are well shot and well lit.

Keep up the good work.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Thanks guys.

It is nice to have some encouragement is I know my time putting all this down is not for nothing.

Iain,

Yep the detail is very evident which considering it is a black cloth is not to much hassle. I also like the blur to help the model stand out from the background.

The problem I was having with this is that the lights were too bright to drop to a aperture that would cause the bluring in the distance I have to play with.

I have got a ND 2 stop filter which I have been trying today with another model who came round for a shoot (paid of course). Georgous Japanese lady.

The ND filter has now enabled me to get within range of Rawshooters power to adjust the exposure so the pictures come out fairly good.

I have not been overly impressed with the 50mm for this work, the 85mm is pretty good but I have found myself working with the 28mm-135mm with a polarizer on the end which seems to me to have produced some pretty good results today. I also did a few shots free hand relying on the IS system and they are notably less sharp than using the tripod and remote release (as you would expect).

Three examples. Again this is for the lenses and not for commenting on the model (unless it is flattery of course). I do have some pictures from the shoot that are better and show the blur to good effect but they are more of an artistic nude variety so I will not post here. I am als fairly sure the young lady would not be pleased if I did.

All shots with the exception of one have been amended for exposure but nothing else save resizing, converting to 8 bit and saving as jpg (quality 8).



100mm, f5.6, 1/200 sec, iso100 (28mm-135mm IS Lens).



50m (Prime), f1.4, 1/200sec, iso100
Note the slight bluring but this is after Rawshooter has compensated by 3 stops for brightness. Shame as it is a lovely shot of her. Quite good for a high key pic though.

Finally one of my favorites from the evening (well of the ones I can post here for sure)..



85mm (Prime), f1.8, 1/200sec, iso100


Iain, your second question about the device on ebay. I have no idea but it is just a radio transmitter and receiver unit. Will it work.. well the only thing to stop it I can think of is radio interference and if it can keep up. Massive saving on the Canon solution though.

Chris,

Thanks, glad it is bringing back (hopefully happy) memories. Only other thing for me after getting the gear which I have pretty much done for the level I am at is paying for the models. I may have stuck up a good working relationship with the lady from tonight and as we had a great time I think she will be very happy to come back and maybe do some TFP or just for fun as that really is what we were doing to the point where she was feeling quite guilty taking the money for the shoot.

Thanks for the comments about the shots. Being at it was from my first shoot with a model and the pics had minimal to no post processing bar one I find them really encouraging. I belive that the shots done today are a vast improvment although that could partly be because I find the lady modelling extremely cute. Keeping hands off can be quite difficult some times but I would like to think I have been able to maintain a professional relationship with the ladies I have worked with and so far two out of two have reported that they had a very fun and relaxed time.

Ok I will contine the experiences at work tomorrow all things being quiet.

Thanks again
RB
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Ok as it has been a little bit of time since I have added to this I thought I would gather my thoughts, update on changes since the beginning of the thread and give an idea of things to come.

So first, changes.

Well although my credit card has not quite stayed in my wallet I have managed not to buy any camera equipment since my last post :clap: . Being an impulse buyer and being currently lucky enough to have a pay packet which can reasonable sustain the bad habit this is a major victory.

I have upgraded my computer. So now here is a list of the new stuff;

ATI 1800XL PCI-E video card
Asus PCI-E motherboard
New 580W PSU.
Wireless Logitech gamer mouse.
Re-installed WinXP Pro from scratch.

Well that was Saturday last week gone (along with some work commitments). I wanted to upgrade to PCI-E and had the spare money so went for it.

I am now pretty happy with the result and really can't think of anything I need or particularly want to upgrade apart from maybe my printer.

I really have not tried using the new tablet for editing pics yet. Having never used a tablet before the logic of how it works is a new concept like first using a mouse was way back in the 80's (for me). Moving the pen over the tablets area moves the mouse pointer. Making contact with the tablets surface is like clicking (right button) so can be used for dragging windows etc. There is a two was rocker button on the stylus. Pushing forwards is like left click and I can't remember what the other direction does at this time. I think it will be very useful but it is finding the time to learn it's use. The other thing with the tablet is that it connects with USB and as it samples for a change in the stylus position very frequently it is best not to put it on a hub / USB controller with something else that requires quite a lot of bandwidth (like a mouse or external hard drive). When first connected to the same hub as the mouse I ended up with the mouse movement stuttering due to lack of space on the USB bus to handle input from both devices at the same time. The tablet also came with a mouse but to be honest it looks :thumbsdow . It probably works fine but I have no interest in finding out.

Ok so what is to come;

Well so far I still have to write-up my Thailand / Singapore trip, Shoot 1 with a fetish model, shoot 2 with a lovely Japanese lady and some book reviews / website links.

Oh I also thought I would give a little bit more info about myself. Not too much but to give a better understanding to people reading this about where I may be coming from....

Ok I was born in 70 something :), went through college and Uni studying IT and then on to work for some of the major international trading banks in the city (Londons' financial area). I have a partner who currently lives in New York and hopefully will be moving to the UK next year. After that time there will be wedding bells if all goes as expected. She used to be a model in her native Taiwan although now works in the New York financial sector (business side).

I have always liked photography much more than the other 'arts'. Going around an art gallery I find boring. A photographic exhibition though holds my interest a lot more. I suspect since embarking on this journey such exhibitions may now hold more interest.

So why the fascination with photography. One phrase I have heard a number of times is 'God is in the details'. Whilst I am not particularly religious it is the detail in photography that grabs my attention. In a shot of New York from the air looking down for example I can find myself lost looking down the roads, trying to make out the people, the sights and sounds. Having a sense of being there. It is the detail that holds my attention.

So why did I choose to look at photographing ladies. Well that is an easy one...... I can. I am lucky enough that my partner, having been a model, has no problems with me wishing to photograph ladies. I have always been fascinated by the female form and now have a chance to explore the beauty of it. I enjoy the portrait work, the glamour is ok but my favourite is the art nude. Trying to find models who are willing to pose up to art nude, especially Asian models (Oriental Asian) is pretty difficult.

Ok so why specifically Asian models. Not sure but Asian ladies have always held more of a fascination for me. Is it a case of the exotic... maybe but I don't find myself drawn so much to black or Indian ladies. Maybe it is an interest in the culture as well which in many ways is wildly different to Western cultures.

Ok so enough about me and my ramblings.

We'll get right back after a short intermission :smashin:

Oh and thanks to Steve for making this a sticky.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Luckily I have some pics from this trip here at work so can add them.

Please note that the pics were generally shot in jpeg high quality due to the fear of filling up the two 1Gb cards I had with me and not knowing if I could get them burnt to CD in Singapore or Thailand. I needn't have worried.

Overview.
Having been to Singapore last Christmas (2004) working and Thailand for two weeks in May I had the chance to work in Singapore for a week and go from there to Thailand for another holiday. Being a contractor (self employed) I have to pay for my flights and food, lodging etc but I can put them against business expenses and so reclaim tax back. Luckily Singapore Airlines were doing a free stopover to Thailand so I could claim the full flight price back although obviously only the hotel and food expenses for the time in Singapore.

I didn't spend too much time taking photos in Singapore. I had done most of the tourist stuff back last Christmas. The weather was hot although not quite as humid as it was on my last visit. If you have never been to Asia or a tropical country then it can be quite a shock. Just about everyone uses public transport or taxis. The 15 minute walk from my hotel to my work showed me why. Drenched in a fine sheen of sweat.

I took the EOS 350D with the 28mm-135mm IS lens, a polarizer and hood. I also had my speedlight with me and a mini tripod although I didn't use the tripod the whole trip. I forgot my remote release.

I arrived in Singapore in the morning and got straight to work trying out the camera in the cab on the way to the hotel.




Well as I said I didn't take many pictures but here are a few.


7 Eleven seem to have taken over Asia.


Coming up to monsoon season the weather was not always good.


The view from just outside Suntec City mall and offices. The financial district is in the distance and the building works in the foreground are for a new MRT (Mass rapid transit or subway) stop. Not much has changed since the previous Christmas.


Shooting on the move. Don't stare at it or your eyes will go funny.

Top Tip: When shooting and moving use a fast shutter speed or they will end up like this. :smashin:


Just a street shot of Singapore. Behind me is the Raffles hotel. In front on the left is the Raffles City Mall and on the right is an old monastery that has been turned into bars, restaurants and clubs :eek: .

Well I did say there were not a lot of pics from Singapore.

Condensation caused a bit of an issue. On going from an air-conditioned building (i.e. just about any building in Singapore) to the outside will cause the lens to mist up. Giving it 5 minutes to warm up before shooting allows the lens to clear.

Having just re-organised the pictures on photobucket I have now broken the links to the other model shots so I better go fix them.

Next up, Thailand and a few more shots.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
As I went travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (north) and Koh Samui (Island to the south in the Gulf of Thailand) I will split this into three sections.

Bangkok.

Being my second visit to Bangkok in 4 months I didn't take to many pics this time. I was only in Bangkok for a couple of nights before moving to Chiang Mai.


Welcome to Bangkok. View travelling along the expressway before hitting the famous Bangkok traffic. Yes I arrived around the rush hour. Note the rainbow type effect on the glass of the cab's window as the polarizing filter on the camera reacts with the polarized glass.


Capitilisum comes to Thailand. Note the Tesco Lotus sign. In Thailand you need a Thai partner to operate a business. I guess Tesco teamed up with Lotus to achieve this. Also old Ronnie McDonald doesn't wave in Thailand but Wai's (putting both hands together as if in payer and bending the top half of teh body forward). THe height of the hands when giving a wai indicates the level of person socially you are giving the wai too.


My one and only long exposure shot from my hotel room. The camera was on a tripod but with no remote shutter release you can see the amount of vibration added to the shot by just pressing the button. The picture is also using the long end of the 28mm-135mm lens.


Bangkok gives a traditional goodbuy as i await my plane to Chiang Mai. Monsoon season was well and truely here.

Next, on to Chiang Mai
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Ok now there were a lot of pics taken in Chiang Mai but I will try to keep to a sensible amount.

Chiang Mai is located to the north of Thailand. Often referred to as the Rose of the North it is the cultural centre of Thailand. The countryside is greener and it is bordered by mountains to the north. The city itself is reasonably large but much more spread out than Bangkok where I got the feeling that everything was crushed into as little space as possible.


Welcome to Chiang Mai.


A trip to the night bazaar. Everything 20-90% off ;) . The Night Bazaar was flooded again this year. Due to the heavy rainfall one of the rivers tends to flood and as the bottom level of the bazaar (there are 3) is below street level it tends to flood. This year people were up to their ankles in water. Last year people on the bottom level were up to their necks. When I went there were only a few puddles.


Another stormy day overlooking the city on the way to one of the temples.


Polarizer at work :) .

I was staying in an area about 30 minutes by taxi outside of Chiang Mai called Mae Rim. After driving out of the city we went up the mountain slopes and ended up quite high in the mountains close to the cloud line. Due to the time of year I happened to be the only guest in the hotel for the first 3 days :smashin: .


The beautiful contrast of the different shades of green along with the bright flowers just looked wonderful.


One swimming pool all to myself. The weather was rain then dry, rain then dry and the heat / humidity was fine. It was lovely and warm but not very humid so pretty comfortable.


The cloud level sometimes descended.


And then the heavens would open up. When it rained it really rained.


But the off shoot of all the rain was wonderful flowers like this.


A half day trip to the elephant park (I have more elephant pics if anyone wants to see them). The thing that surprised me was the intelligence and playfulness that was so evident in the elephants. One of the highlights of my trip.


The thinker....... A trip to the monkey park. Note to self..... if in doubt, FAST shutter speed :cool:


Someone's coming to say hello.


One of the waterfalls in the hills around Chiang Mai. Hang on, how did I get in to the picture ;) .


A Thai family enjoy a picnic by the waterfall.


Speedlite in action. Using an external rather than internal flash really will add an new dimension to your photos. I was using the speedlite quite a lot of the time and when I didn't want a flash I would attach the speedlite and just turn it off. The onboard flash would stay down as the speedlite was attached but as the speedlite was off it would not flash. I am sure there is a menu option to turn the flash off but this way saved me looking for it and took away the need to also turn it back on.

Well that is a very small sample of the Chiang Mai photos. Most were taken with the EOS 350 but some were taken with a Ixus 430.

Next up - Samui.
 

RimBlock

Active Member
So it was goodbye to Chiang Mai and back to Koh Samui. This is the second time I had been there. It is situated about level with Puket but in the Gulf of Thailand. It tends to be a bit quieter than Puket and hasn't got such a reputation for the bars and rent-a-girlfriends.

Of note, if anyone has seen the wonderful movie 'Butterfly Man' then most of it was set in Samui. I am still trying to work out where the Big Buddha in the movie was as it looked nothing like the Big Buddha when I visited this time but the kickboxing school I am sure is the one in Lamai. If you haven't seen the movie then why not. If you are going to Thailand and especially if you are going as a single guy or just for the nightlife then there are a lot worse 'primers' for Thailand than this.

Anyway......


Sunset going to Samui. Yep the plane was a turboprop. This one was with the Ixus 430 again.


Welcome to Samui. Ok well I cheated. This was taken leaving Samui. The flight from Bangkok is only around 1 hour although Bangkok Airways are the only airline allowed to fly there. This means that they can charge whatever they like........


Samui was a sleepy little island not so long ago. It is now under a big development program and you can see building going up all over the place. Things had changed since my last visit in May. You can still get lost in the hills there but the main area (Chewang Beach) has turned in to a pseudo Southend on a hot Friday night. What is worse is it is not just English Chavs but Chavs from all over Europe who are descending there. I tend not to like Chewang any more so decided to stay at Lamai (south of Chewang) and Cheung Beach (north of Chewang).


The view from the restaurant at Lamai. You can see the sea is pretty choppy and the clouds are looking pretty rainy. Yep there was a storm coming.


The hotel also laid on some traditional Thai dancing. I had been to a couple of Thai set dinner and dance nights and they had been great. I am not usually in to this much culture but I really enjoyed it. The costumes were fantastic.


This was one of my favourite dances. The music was very upbeat and catchy. The moves were very elegant and lowed beautifully. Of course the only problem was a watching great spotlight facing straight into the camera.


Three ladies wai to the guests on their way off the stage. The stage was a raised platform in the middle of a pond.


The suite I stayed in when I moved to Cheung was an old wooden two level boat. It was very nice although a little old and probably in need of a refit.


Yes the weather could be nice and it only rained a couple of times when I was on Samui.


The beach was great and uncluttered but it was the wrong time of year for the lovely water colour usually seen on photos of Thailand.


Some people went swimming while the large fishing trawlers bobbed up and down in the background


Some people just contented themselves with a traditional Thai massage on the beach. Rumours were that this guy was very good :D .

Ok so that is the pictures.

Next up - Lessons learnt.
 

ash71

Standard Member
Hi RimBlock

The Thai photos brought back good memories. Just a quick question for you regarding the photo of the trawlers, Would the hotel in the back ground be the Tongsai Bay resort? We stayed there a couple of years ago and have a shot similar to this taken from the next beach around the bay. The trawlers would anchor off shore every couple of nights and make a racket as they moved off before sunrise.

Samui's airport is something else isn't it. Pretty much what you'd expect a tropical airport to be like.

I've got a couple of days stop over in Singapoe early next year, can you give me a few photo highlights/locations I shouldn't miss.

Cheers
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Ash,

Yes it could well be. The beach was Cheung Beach and I was in the Imperial Boat house hotel.

The beach was nice but not quite as nice as Chaweng Beach where I stayed in May. Mind you the beach was a lot less crowded.

Samui airport really is a tropical island airport. The immigration and departure lounges are just open sided thatched roofed buildings and they had complimentary drinks and snacks :smashin: .

As for Singapore, there is not that much to do there as it is such a small place. The locals usually hang out in malls in their time off. Orchard Road is like Oxford Street in London. A couple of good places to go would be Sentosa , a small island on the south coast of Singapore connected by cable car and road bridge. They have a few attractions and a couple of man made beaches and The East Coast. Best place for seafood in Singapore. Must try the pepper or chilli crab. Cab fares are cheap and from one side of Singapore to teh other takes just 30 mins by car. They also have a night safari but I have not tried that one. Robinson Quay by the financial district is also a good place to go for bars and open air dining.

Singapore is lovely, warm, clean (big fines for dropping litter inc cigs). The population is around 80% Chinese, 15% Indian and 5% other but with Raffles catapulting it to an international trading port it has a big English feel and English is the first language taught in schools. Saying that, Chinese is more widely spoken but most people can understand at least basic english.

If any single people are thinking of travelling there then 'renting' a girlfriend is legal but confined to two main areas. Geyling and Orchard towers (four floors of ...err... ladies of easy virtue). Need to watch out in Orchard towers as a couple of the bars are main hangouts for ladies of dubious sex. Of course this is all hear say from friends I see when over there ;) .

Singapore if good for a short visit but I think I would go crazy living there.

RB
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Ok so I lied....... A thread running now prompted me to post this as it is also something that I have been looking at as well....

Colour Calibration and ICC / ICM profiles.

The problem with using a camera, monitor and printer to output is that they will usually handle colour in different ways.

Shots from my 350D look fantastic using the imbedded icc profile in the pics. Using the default monitor settings they also looked great. Printing looked nothing like they did on the screen......

Ok, I thought, new printer maybe as this is just a HP 2760 (£90) printer and although I have been happy with the quality before, maybe now it is time to upgrade due to the quality I am now aspiring too.

To test this out I sent a pic off to Photobox (note they will not take TIFF's so you have to compress as Jpg). When the A4 print came back the quality was great but the colour, contrast and overall pic looked worse than the one I had printed at home.

Now was the time to investigate ICC profiles.....

Well first I tried to set my monitor to mimic the printer output....... nope, cant get the brightness down low enough. The monitor is a Dell 2405 and is very bright when first out of the box.

Next I downloaded the driver for the monitor along with it's icc profile. Loaded that in, loaded the same profile for the printer, working on the theory of both using the same profiles so both will output the same colours....... Not quite. The print version was still very dark and over saturated.

I then found a guide on calibrating the monitor using Adobe Gamma supplied with Photoshop (CS2 etc). Walking through the wizard was simple enough and a new colour profile was generated. Using this profile for both the printer and monitor improved the situation somewhat but it is still not perfect.

Where from here........

Well I am looking at a new printer, maybe some calibration software but at £150 or so for the Spyder2 and then maybe another £150 for printer calibration software is a hefty investment.

I also have no guarantee that doing the calibration will produce prints from somewhere like photobox that look like they do on the screen but then they should be a lot closer.

RB
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Ok, so back to the topic.

After a lot of stuff about going away and taking pics here is some more information for the more technical among you who want to improve rather than look at some blokes holiday pics :D .

Being new to the camera and only having a rough idea of aperture and shutter speed and how it relates to the overall shot (I knew about ISO from the days for using film cameras) I have found that a lot of the shots taken are not as clear as I would have hoped. Camera shake was a major problem even with the IS lens system and doubly so when zoomed. Why was this...... too slow a shutter speed.

I seem to recall using a shutter speed between 30/s and 60/s and an aperture as wide as possible to let as much light in as possible with the polarizer on the lens. I really didn't want to ramp up the ISO due to noise issues but I understand that usually up to IOS400 on the EOS350D is generally fine.

So speeding up the shutter to give sharper images at the cost of ISO is a pretty good tradeoffs' if it can be kept below ISO400.

Carrying around a DSLR with a big(ish) zoom and hood and not being in my 50's or wearing a raincoat seemed to get a little respect but also promoted a little arrogance with the "what's with that toy that you are using" type attitude....... yeah and me with all of 3 weeks experience at the time. The cab driver in Singapore even asked if I was a photo journalist as I was snapping away. I told the truth and said no but it highlighted an interesting option for the future based on preconceived ideas of people :devil: .

The automatic setting produce very good results. Sometimes these setting produce better pictures than me on manual did although I generally used manual to 'train' myself to improve.

Carrying around a tripod on holiday makes me feel like a bit of a dic*. I am there for a holiday and don't want to be lugging around a tripod. If that means I will miss that perfect shot then so be it. Going out and experiencing the world is more important than taking a photograph of it.

My portrait work is better than my landscape work. I like doing both but the results seem to me to be better with portraits which I am happy with as things could be worse than photographing beautiful women, I could be stuck up a hill in the freezing cold wind and rain. I do admire all those people who do it for the sake of art though :hiya: .

Fear of theft was unfounded as I have never seen a problem in the two occasions I have visited although most of my time has been spent in touristy areas. I did however get household insurance to cover the camera equipment when away just in case. My mother was pleased as she has been on at me for years to do so.

RB
 

RimBlock

Active Member
Well it had to happen and it usually does getting out of the office for lunch..... Walking along the Barbican high walks a thought came to me......

If I want to see a picture on my monitor based on what my camera has shot then surely I need to base my monitor and printer profile on the camera's icc profile as supplied with the canon software.

If I load this profile into Adobe Gamma then I should be able to tweak it for my monitor and then what comes from the camera will be displayed the same on the monitor. Taking this profile and calibrating the printer using it as the base should then produce the same tones, colours etc.

Hey I may be completely wrong here and if I am then please someone correct me.

Livin' and learning........ slowely

RB
 

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